"How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind !
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd" - Alexander Pope
The utter eternal truth that we as humans, with all our foibles and follies, fail to realize is that just like one side of the coin loses its significance without the other, joy is meaningless without grief, triumph is worthless without failure and love is futile without hatred. Therefore it's foolhardy to take the moments of joys, triumph and love as granted while consider moments of grief and hatred as the impervious measures to determine the current state of being or decision the next. And it's this basic message that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind perpetuates in the most oblique but funny way, by means of two characters who through the process of loss discover what they had to begin with. Within all its maze of dreams, and eccentricity, the film has a beautiful emotional core and that is we might not realize the worth of moments we spend with our loved ones unless it's taken away from us.
The dizzying, surreal epiphany of love and heartbreak has never been explored in the manner and to the degree of success with which Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind does. Mind is wrought with memories that hum within, to stir up your feelings in way you may or may not conceivably desire. And feelings are something that never grows old. It remains, just there, tucked somewhere in the corner of your heart, hence, when a thing of present takes you back into the bylanes of past memories, it inadvertently brings back the same feelings related to those individual memories. So, as humans we might not have as much control as we think on which and what memories we want to relive since the trigger to those memories is not always at our behest.
To elucidate further, human mind is a stock of past memories - some bitter, some sweet. We don't retain everything from our past. Probably not even 1%. The tiny bit that we do, are generally moments or events of significance. But what brings back those bygone moments of love, happiness, and gloom, to our conscious mind from a subconscious state of being, are things that exist or seem to exist in present. It so often happens that when you hear, smell or see certain things, you are transported back into the memories of past somehow connected or related to those things. A song that reminds you of your first crush. A smell that reminds you of your school. Sometimes even a toy that reminds you of your childhood. If all these things are somehow removed from our present, is it possible that our mind will cease to retain the moments of past brought back by those very things.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind actually goes a step ahead. Not only all the things from present that invoke a certain past of you, are removed from your life, but also with the help of science if those memories too, are deleted from mind, is it possible that you won't even recognize the person connected with those memories when you meet them in present. I know this theory sounds scaringly complex but that's where the genius of the film lies.
The plot of the film is as difficult to explain as you would have imagined. Joel (Jim Carrey), a introverted, shy man, who after breaking up with his girlfriend, an impulsive but full of life woman, Clementine (Kate Winslett), discovers later that she has undergone a radical procedure to have him erased from her memory. So, in an act of self-gratification, Joel decides to undergo the procedure himself. But as the procedure [done by rendering the subject unconscious] goes on, and his memories of her start vanishing one after another, Joel's subconscious realizes that beyond the acrimony between them, there were beautiful moments that he never wants to forget and also, the possibility that he still loves her. In an attempt to protect his remaining memories he tries to outrun the erasing process while it's being carried out inside his mind and so begins a strange labyrinth of fragmented memories, surrealistically fading people, and mental materializations of Clementine and even a hilarious trans-lucidity to Joel's childhood.
Lush with beautiful images and inventive score similar to silent era-esque soundtrack, it's impossible to explain everything about Eternal Sunshine. No doubt the film is layered with a difficult to follow narrative, - though actually it's simple once you start following- it's one of those films which is richly rewarding simply because you can't stop yourself from swooning over the highly thoughtful concept and deeply moving film that it is. On the other hand, let me warn beforehand, that you might find yourself in a maze of unanswered theories, and strange images which might lead you to believe that the film is not worth your time. That's where you might miss on one of the most intelligent films of all time.
Film's strength is also all the no hold bar performances in it. Winslet's authentic portrayal of lively Clementine, who changes her hair colors depending on her mood, will leave you smiling and touched at the same time. And in a turn that will catch many off-guard who have mostly seen him in wild comedies, Jim Carrey is surprisingly but adequately subdued. In the end, Carrey's restraint makes a perfect fit to Winslet's gay abandon.
But the real star of the show is its writer, Charlie Kaufman, who in the form of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, might very well have written the most profoundly brilliant screenplay ever in cinematic history. Penning a compelling spin on the love story with a stroke of ingenious madness and an emotional payoff he gets at the heart of a relationship and keeps the audience entertained and enriched throughout. A film that is not only unique in its own way but also endlessly re-watchable with something new to be found within every viewing. Go, See, Live and Experience.